The International Ladies Handbag, Pocketbook and Novelty Workers received unexpected support for their efforts from an organization of shoppers in 1935. (July 1935 Luggage & Leather Goods, page 58)
Newly Organized League of Women Shoppers To Investigate Strikes: May Wield Influence
The LEAGUE OF WOMEN SHOPPERS has been organized in New York City to act during strikes, or when store or factory labor is being overworked or underpaid. Officers and sponsors are important in professions, arts, industry, business and society. An office has been opened at 70, Fifth Avenue and by Fall a nation-wide1 membership drive will be well under way with groups in such key cities as Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, etc., according to Mrs. Aline Davis Hays, president. Mrs. Hays is the wife of Arthur Garfield Hays, well known liberal lawyer. She herself has been a textile and costume designer and department store stylist.
In a statement to HAIRE PUBLICATIONS Mrs. Hays said that no other organization exists with this particular purpose. It will be the objective of the League to inform the millions of women patrons of stores throughout the country of correct facts underlying strikes. Bulletins, pamphlets and exhaustive publicity releases will be sent the entire membership with the true findings as determined by the League.
"When a crisis occurs between employer and employee our staff will make a thorough investigation and report to the board. If directors vote to support labor, the whole story will be sent to members. Facts which newspapers cannot give because they must protect advertisers will be given so that women will know all sides of a labor dispute.
"With this evidence, should it pro^e favorable to employees, women will be asked to protest to employers by means of letters, visiting delegations, picketing and other demonstrations. Furthermore, the members will be expected to withhold patronage from the store involved or specific factory product until the unjust conditions have been remedied," said Mrs. Hays, in explaining methods which the League is following.
As example of the League's demonstration, Mrs. Hays cites the employee strike at Ansonia Shoe Company, New York, retail chain. Mrs. Hays and other members joined the picket line. The investigation committee found conditions bad. Mrs. Hays issued a statement promising to withhold her patronage from the store and persuade friends to do likewise until League demands for improvement would be satisfied.
The activities of the League of Women Shoppers in the strike of the Ansonia shoe salesmen accelerated settlement. After numerous declarations by owner and manager that they would not have a union, and would never have one, the League became active in organizing consumers to withdraw patronage. This together with picketing resulted in prompt negotiations of employers with A. F. L. for settlement. Salesmen now have union recognition, reinstatement of those fired, plus better working conditions.
With women commanding 90 per cent of the nation's spending, the League expects to be in a strong position to remedy unfair working conditions, according to Mrs. Hays. The League's activity will be extended throughout the country, said Mrs. Hays.
We present these new developments editorially to our various trades that you may know the program initiated by a New York consumer group. We do not know that their plans for expansion will prove successful but their zeal and earnestness is not to be doubted, judged from their personal and collective activity in our city.